DENVER — A relaxing vacation to Hawaii started as a headache for a Littleton man last Wednesday after learning his car had been stolen from a Denver International Airport parking lot while mid-air.
Scott Friedman told Denver7 by phone his car had been spotted driving erratically by a Westminster Police officer just hours after he parked it at the Pikes Peak lot. He didn't learn about this until landing in Hawaii.
"I thought he was kidding. He said, 'No, I'm on the line with, you know, somebody who is telling me that my car is being driven recklessly,' as he said, 'through Westminster,'" friend Wells Squier said.
Wells and his wife Sadie spoke with Denver7 Monday on behalf of Friedman who is still in Hawaii and does not want to talk on camera.
"By the time he landed, his car had already been recklessly driven and captured," Wells said.
Friedman sent Denver7 a picture of his truck parked in the N-1 section of the Pikes Peak lot. Denver7 can confirm the truck is no longer there.
"He was in a daze. He didn't know what to do," Sadie said.
For the first two months of 2019, 2020 and 2021, the three-year average of auto theft reports at DIA was 20, according to Denver Police. So far this year, at least 57 auto thefts have been reported.
"Those situations aren't ideal, and we don't want that to happen. We don't want people to feel like they can't park in DEN's public parking spaces," Alex Renteria, an airport spokesperson, said.
What's happening at the airport's parking lots isn't unique, she says, as cars are getting stolen from parking lots at a high rate across the metro.
"This is something that we are aware of, and we're working with DPD to decrease this crime around Denver's airport," Renteria said.
The airport's parking lots have cameras and patrols by DPD and airport employees, she says, but Denver7 did not find any cameras in sight or patrols at the Pikes Peak lot Monday afternoon.
Still, she recommends not leaving any valuables in your car, much less your keys, to prevent thieves from targeting you.
"We hope that, you know, we'll be able to figure out really solid ways to ensure that this doesn't keep happening," Renteria said.
For Friedman and the Squiers, the solution is clear.
"Oh, I never would park there again," Sadie said.
No one from Denver Police was available to talk on camera Monday. A spokesperson says there have been an average of at least five auto theft reports at DIA per week over the past three weeks.
In 2021, auto thefts increased citywide by 97% over the three-year average, which includes 2018, 2019, and 2020.